It’s so tempting to grab the flights on a sale and just leave with no worries, but there’s more than a few things you need to keep in mind before heading off unfortunately. So I've made this checklist exactly for this reason. If you tick off everything, you're good to go 😎
Your passport not only needs to be current, but a lot of countries will cause a problem for you if there’s less than 6 months left until expiry.
So even on the last day of your trip, you should have at least 6 months left on your passport for everything to go smooth.
You can either get your passport renewed or email the relevant country’s consulate/embassy for more information. Their tourism site would also have the information.
Where are you going? Depending on the answer you may need one or more vaccines to ensure you don’t get really sick or worse.
These can be as simple as a tetanus, rabies or hepatitis shot. You should either look up what you need and get them, or check with your doctor.
Other common diseases like malaria have medication that you can take to prevent or treat it, like doxycycline, but again, check the malaria maps here and with your doctor before committing.
Note: Some malaria maps are quite conservative with their risk estimates. I’ve been to several problem areas, and have met many travelers like me that have gone and not contracted malaria. Dengue Fever is a different story though, look into it and cover yourself with mosquito repellent.
If you’re from a developed country, you’ve most likely got access to your destination via a visa waiver or visa on arrival. This is actually so common that the few times a citizen of a developed country will need a visa, they'll be unaware and in turn have to get a flight back out of the country.
Countries you probably need a visa for;
There’s of course many more, and a thing to keep in mind is that a visa waiver or visa on arrival isn’t forever. Each country will have their own laws around what you can do, how long you can stay, rules on re-entry and more.
Although you should double check with official sites, this tool is super handy for doing a preliminary check: https://visalist.io/
The best time to look these up is well before you get to the country because some visas take a while and need you to send off your passport.
And I’m not talking about whether it’s summer or winter. Depending on where you’re going, the seasons can be sporadic, for instance, in places like Malaysia and Thailand, you’ll have monsoon season with heavy rainfall and storms for periods during the day - this is June to October usually.
Although this is usually not a problem and you can still have a great time, it’s worth managing expectations. I met a group of people that were going to Croatia over the Australian summer, being uninformed that it would be the peak of winter in Croatia...
Your Bank’s Security Policy
A lot of banks will lock your card if you haven’t told them that you’re going abroad. They assume someone’s copied your card and is trying to draw money, and all the while, you’re at an ATM in Italy completely frustrated that you can’t get money out for that delicious looking gelato.
Moral of the story, tell the bank that you’re going on a trip so they don’t do this.
Your Flight Inclusions/Exclusions
I see it time and time again where people get a cheap flight and assume it comes with a bunch of check-in baggage allowance when it doesn’t.
Or the assumption that there’ll be food included in the price of this 12 hour flight, which isn’t necessarily true.
Check what’s included by going to the “manage booking” page of your airline/booking agent. Or better yet, get this backpack. It's perfect for travelling with carry-on only, and you can forget about the check-in baggage process altogether.
And there you go! If you ticked off all 6 check boxes then you my friend, are pretty much ready to leave with no worries. Here's some smaller quick tips for before you go and when you land though:
- Get travel insurance especially if you're doing winter sports
- Check to see if the water is drinkable from the tap
- Understand what the currency translates to in your local currency
- Make sure you read up on religious and cultural norms to be more sensitive towards the locals traditions.